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October 9, 2013

SDSU lands 5-star

San Diego State received possibly its biggest commitment in the program's history when Elk Grove (Calif.) Laguna Creek forward Malik Pope met with SDSU coaches Steve Fisher, Brian Dutcher and Justin Hutson to commit to the Aztecs on Wednesday evening.

"He really liked Coach Fisher and his history with wings like Kawhi Leonard, Jamaal Franklin, so on and so forth," LeRohn Dodson, director of Pope's AAU squad Team Superstar said. "He's a kid that doesn't mind being different and what I mean by that is he doesn't have to go to the biggest name school. He basically picked SDSU over schools like Kansas, UCLA, Georgetown and many others. He chose San Diego State because he felt he could come in there and do something special. He can help San Diego State get to the Final Four.

"I think Coach Fisher is getting a program changer. They're getting somebody that is going to take them to the next level and help lead them to the Final Four. He's got that potential."

Pope visited San Diego State for an official visit last month and took a trip out to Kansas' Midnight Madness event this past weekend, but SDSU ultimately felt like the right fit for the 6-foot-8, 205 prospect. His relationships with Sacramento products and current San Diego State freshmen Dakarai Allen and D'Erryl Williams also made Pope's decision easier.

"He felt comfortable with the guys and he's familiar with the success from the past with guys like Chase Tapley and Xavier Thames," Dodson said. "That played a big part in it.

"Coach Fisher is a people person and really cares about his players and as for Justin Hutson - I think he's the best recruiter on the west coast. They are doing something really special with the program and play in a great conference. The Mountain West is no longer a mid-major - not at all. It's a great atmosphere for Malik to be in and I think he will do great things at San Diego State."

Pope has suffered through two heartbreaking leg injuries that required surgery and has kept him off the court for months. But according to Dodson, the five-star lanky wing, who he compares to as a mixture of NBA stars Kevin Durant and Paul George, is expected to make a return some time in early January.

"Now that he's committed he can keep that weight off his shoulders, focus on his classes and his rehab," he said. "I do think he should be back at some point later during his high school season."

Pope joins San Diego (Calif.) St. Augustine shooting guard Trey Kell and Brewster Academy (N.H.) point guard Kevin Zabo in San Diego State's soon to be heralded 2014 recruiting class.

Pope plans to sign with SDSU during the early signing period.

"He'll probably have a press conference and do something with his family at his school," Dodson said.

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